FX Chief John Landgraf Aims Now For State Of The Slate, Not State Of The Industry; Stresses Disney-Owned Outlet’s “Bifurcated Place” – TCA

FX boss John Landgraf deftly tried to thread the corporate needle today in his executive session today at the virtual Winter TCA.

Pivoting from heralding the opportunities of FX on Hulu, the cabler being part of the Disney empire the past two years, and conceding to decisions made at “a very high level,” Landgraf was all about being a team player today, shedding his more freewheeling philosophical or far reaching bent of the past.

“So far, there is an extremely good partnership and cordial and productive relationship between my boss Peter Rice and his colleagues at DMed (Disney Media and Distribution Entertainment) and my colleagues at DMed and we’re still figuring it out,” Landgraf said of the intertwined corporate structure and platforming roles that he and FX now live within. “You know, it’s a fluid situation,” the exec added with no small understatement.

Lacking a ballroom of journalists in front of him to play off, Landgraf’s modulated live state of the slate and chat was preceded early in the morning by a number of embargoed announcements. Immediately before the exec spoke there was a FX greatest hits reel of sorts full of proclamations “danger” and “edge” drawing from the likes of the latest seasons of Fargo, Pose, Dave, the new Reservation Dogs, and the upcoming Impeachment: American Crime.

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Initially reading from a prompter, a seated Landgraf noted that “once again it is a bummer that we are not in the same room together,” but hoped that the Winter TCA in January would take place in person. Then listing off the slate of about “30 shows a year” that FX intends to bring to the small screen and to FX on Hulu, now Disney employee Landgraf noted that that “the industry is consolidating.”

“There was a major restructuring at the Walt Disney Company and the running of linear channels exists elsewhere in the company,” he stated, name checking Disney TV chair Dana Walden at one point. “So, I run a brand that markets, commissions and publicizes programs produces original programing.”

“That’s one of the reasons you are seeing my focus change somewhat, so I am going to talk much more specifically from an FXcentric perspective today and moving forward.”

Of course, that’s a far cry from the state of the industry discourses Landgraf has been known for, full of graphs, data and warnings of content saturation. Coming off FX being praised in yesterday’s Q3 earnings call by House of Mouse CEO Bob Chapek, Landgraf today was much more in a traditional executive role in a rapidly changing medium

“We can all see the focal point of consumption of scripted programming moving towards streaming,” he noted. “It’s not that there isn’t major consumption going on on linear channels anymore, there is.”

“People have noted that the bulk of television watching, with a capital T, still exists on linear channels,” Landgraf continued. “But, I think scripted programming consumption is rising very rapidly on streaming platforms, and conversely, it seems to be declining on linear channels. So that’s why it was really vitally important for FX to really play a major part in the component of the ecosystem that is growing. As you have seen, Hulu is a very vibrant platform and it is growing very fast.”

“So we’re in this bifurcated place, where we make shows for our linear channels, we’re still maintaining a robust slate on those linear channels, but all of those shows are now available in a streaming context. You know, as far as I’m concerned, that positions us towards the future, because what you can see is the emergence of these streaming platforms as the sort of central place where scripted programming is housed and consumed.”

What that future more starkly may look like may become more apparent when Landgraf potentially joins Chapek, Rice, Walden and more top brass at the full court press of the chest beating Disney+ Day in November, or not.

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